The Musée du Barreau de Paris is a museum dedicated to the Paris bar and its lawyers. It features historical exhibits from the library of the Ordre des avocats which is based in the Palais de Justice. In 1979 the museum moved to separate premises at 25 rue du Jour, a small side road near the church of Saint-Eustache in the first arrondissement. The collections occupy the basement of the renovated Hôtel de la Porte, a fine 17th-century house with a carved facade, impressive vestibule and Renaissance-style staircase.
Some exhibits from the 18th-century
The barristers of Paris in their library - engraving by Gabriel Saint-Aubin (1776).
The barristers' library was founded in 1709 by a bequest from Étienne Gabriau de Riparfons de Riparfont, a magistrate in the Parlement of Paris. In the 18th century it was situated in a gallery of the Archbishop's palace close to Notre-Dame. The Order held regular professional meetings or "conferences" there. In Saint-Aubin's picture an orator reads a discourse to the assembled gathering. Above, an allegorical group features Justice, Truth and Eloquence. Truth holds out a mirror to Eloquence and indicates an open book, which can be identified as Montesquieu's L’Esprit des lois.
In the earlier of these two paintings, which dates from the 17th century, Justice is depicted in the company of Piety. She is blindfolded, holds the fasces of office in one hand and the scales of justice in the other. In the second, later picture, which features the coat-of-arms of an unidentified lawyer, Justice is dressed in a blue cloak and holds a sword in her right hand.
The barrister and his "bag"
During the Ancien Régime, barristers used cloth and leather bags to transport their dossiers; The French expression "l'affaire est dans le sac" derives from the Judge's pronouncement at the end of a trial, that the case was "in the bag". The engraving shows a Procureur whose costume is entirely composed of bags, from a series of "Costumes grotesques" created by Nicolas Larmessin II in 1695. The Museum's display also features a mid 19th-century "sac".
The Magistrates of the Parlement of Paris
Many members of the Order of Barristers worked in the Parlement of Paris, and aspired to become magistrates. Several portraits of magistrates in the museum date from the 18th century. In this engraving of 1787 by Pierre Duflos the 16th-century president Achille de Harlay is depicted in his ermine-trimmed red robes signifying that he derives his authority from the monarch. At the time of the Revolution black robes were introduced for magistrates, similar to the costume of the Third Estate.
On the Museum's Facebook site, we learn that it has recently acquired a copy of an engraving by Poilly which depicts the famous lit de justice of 12 September 1715 (purchased in 2015) :
MATERIAL RELATING TO FAMOUS TRIALS
|Malesherbes - |
portrait of 1883
Among other recent acquisitions are two relating to Marat; a copy of the indictment against him, dated 2nd November 1792 and signed by Gersonné and Barère, and this painting depicting the arrest of Charlotte Corday:
Official website: http://www.avocatparis.org/entre-nous/culture/le-musee-du-barreau/le-musee-du-barreau-de-paris
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MuseeDuBarreauDeParis/
Delphine Cingal - Flickr album (Jan.2016)
Background: "Le Tricentenaire de la Bibliothèque du barreau de Paris" pages archived from Avocat/ Barreau Paris:
(Harvard University Press, 1987)